Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary

Well I have caught a cod this winter – no, tell the truth Alan, it was a codling. But by the time you read this I may have caught a bigger one because at last my home county of Kent is producing cod and December is the hot month so neglect the limited number of spring tides on offer. Currently cod catches in terms of rod hours around the South East are still poor in comparison to previous years and if you want to catch that lunker you are going to need to camp out on the beach from now on.

Dungeness beach is the hot spot in my region, the Admiralty pier at Dover is the best pier by far. But at Dungeness so many anglers are fishing that the snags have multiplied to the extent that the Dungeness Angling Association have commissioned a boat to try to dredge them out! But it’s not all doom and gloom because a few anglers who have used their heads have landed fish up to 18lb. The trick is to fish when the weather is at its foulest, especially a wind from the southwest, or immediately after and that means unsocial hours in all the weather can throw at you. Fair weather rods need not apply and if the sun is shining its best to leave the rods in the garage!

Whiting remain a pest and they will take any sized bait you can throw at them, last week at Dungeness I had two whiting savaged and that is a clue to the method to catch the cod, or maybe a monster bass. A live bait rig, from now to the New Year it’s the hot cod tactic. A small baited hook tied alongside a bare 4/0 left out to snare a whiting and then hopefully a cod.

Around the UK the Bristol Channel looks set to once again be the cod capital of the UK!

I got dragged into a conversation the other day about international team selection and the merits of having a full international calendar of events. It came about because I expressed the opinion that the main problems with the internationals, especially World events, was that there were too many categories and they swallow up the limited cash available to support the best anglers, including those that cannot afford to compete for team places because of a lack of cash! I am anti the ladies and intermediates classes simply on the grounds that they take some of the money that should be channelled into the “proper teams” Their numbers are miniscule compared with the men and to an extent the juniors and believe what money is available should go to seniors and juniors only. It could also be argued that if there is a ladies event, why not a senior category for the World Champs, I would say that as an over fifty wouldn’t I, but if you look at the sea angling scene its my bet the over fifties are the largest group, whilst the ladies are by far the smallest?

Away from controversy, it was really enjoyable to fish my two local angling pier festivals this month. Dover Sea Angling and Folkestone Sea Angler held their 86th and 90th event respectively. Although only a shadow of the past both events feature multi day fishing, in the case of Dover, three consecutive days. A marathon match requiring lots of bait and sea fishing tackle and its not surprising when you see my bait bill alone that entry numbers are falling.

How did I do? Well fifth at Dover and third at Folkestone. Not too bad although I could blame my draw and having won my section in both events I think I have an excuse. My passion about pier festivals stems from the range of fishing methods involved, especially nowadays, when you could be casting for dogfish, fishing down the wall for herrings of pollack or float fishing for garfish. You have to know your stuff and it’s the case that as the angling around much of the UK deteriorates there are lots of anglers who do not experience the different kinds of fishing let alone the skills. Just how many have caught a big shore conger eel or bull huss, even a double figure cod is the shore fish of a lifetime!  All because the seas have been decimated by nets etc. Well we are back at controversy again so I will shut up.

Tip of the month is to fish for dabs. Around much of the coast this small flatfish will be moving inshore over the next month or so. Stale black lugworm with a small sliver of squid, herring, sprat, razor, clam etc is the bait and although the dab is small to many its worth is in its taste, PLUS many a codling has been caught on dab tackle after gate crashing the dabs party, so fish with small strong hooks, Kamasan B940 1s are the perfect weapon to spoil the cod’s party ambitions!

My next big multi day event is the Irish Winter Beach Festival, which is fished on January 24/25/26, 2013 from the beaches north of Wexford. First prize is 1000 Euro and a full accommodation package is available at Sean Ogs, Kilmuckridge. The man to contact is Warren Doyle Tel: +353 (0) 12828769 E Mail:

Martyn Reid Cod Folkestone

Folkestone match angler, Martyn Reid with the biggest cod in the Dover Breakwater festival. At 2.250kg it is typical of the biggest of the codling coming out around Kent.

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Alan Yates

About Alan Yates

Born in the channel port of Dover, Alan Yates spent his boyhood bass fishing from boat and shore. After a highly successful match fishing career, during which he competed for England 15 times, twice winning gold, Alan went on to become a full time angling journalist. While writing for, among other titles, Angling Times and Improve your Sea Angling, Alan also wrote his seminal work, Sea Fishing. Founder of the Sea Angler’s Match Federation, Alan fought for catch and release in match fishing and sea fishing more generally.